The various ways in which the power output of muscles can be changed are described. As a result of exercise and growth, force production is increased by an increase in the cross-sectional area of the fibres. This is associated with changes in the rate of synthesis and degradation of muscle proteins which lead to build up of the myofibrils. These then split longitudinally when they reach a critical size. This process is repeated so that the number of myofibrils increases very considerably. Also, during growth, the displacement is increased by increasing the length of the muscles. To do this more sarcomeres are produced in series along the length of the fibres. This is induced by stretch which also encourages fibre growth in girth as well as in length. Yet another way of changing the power output of a muscle is to change the types of muscle fibres (motor units) within the muscle. Fibre type transformation has been fibres (motor units) within the muscle. Fibre type transformation has been shown to occur with cross innervation and stimulation but it does not usually occur with exercise training. It has been possible, however, to change the fibre type proportions in young animals. Also, by combining stretch with stimulation, it has been possible for instance to make the fast glycolytic fibres add on fast oxidative type sarcomeres or even slow oxidation type sarcomeres. Interestingly, fibre transformation also occurs in some species of fish during acclimation to low temperatures in that the specific myofibrillar ATPase activity is increased. This means that the reduction in power output due to decreased temperature is to some extent compensated for by an increase in the intrinsic rate of shortening. EMG studies of fish swimming at different temperatures have shown that the acclimated fish can swim faster and can derive more aerobic sustainable power as a result of this change.
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JOURNAL ARTICLE| 01 March 1985
Malleability of the motor system: a comparative approach
Online Issn: 1477-9145
Print Issn: 0022-0949
© 1985 by Company of Biologists
J Exp Biol (1985) 115 (1): 375–391.
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G. Goldspink; Malleability of the motor system: a comparative approach. J Exp Biol 1 March 1985; 115 (1): 375–391. doi: https://doi.org/10.1242/jeb.115.1.375
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